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Full text of "In memoriam. Memorial services of the Rev. James Floy, D. D."

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NOVEMBER 16, 1863. 





Drew Th^oi^g seitu 
$ Apl 90f 


Rev. James Floy, D. D., died at his residence in 
New York City, October 14th, 1863; and funeral ser- 
vices were held on the subsequent Saturday, at the 
Chapel of the M. E. Church on Beekman Hill. The 
death of Dr. Floy produced a profound impression upon 
the mind and heart of the Church, and at a large meet- 
ing of the ministers of New York and vicinity, held at 
the Mission Rooms, it was resolved to hold a public 
commemorative service. A Committee was appointed 
to make the necessary arrangements for such a service, 
consisting of the Rev. Dr. Whedon, Rev. E. E. 
Griswold, Rev. Dr. True, Rev. Seymour Landon, and 
Rev. G-. W. Woodruff. Under the direction of this 
Committee the Memorial Meeting was called on Monday 
evening, November 16th, at the 7th Street M. E. 
Church, and was very largely attended by the leading 
ministers and members of the Church in the City and 
neighborhood. The Presiding Elder of the New York 
District, Rev. E. E. Griswold, presided ; and the reli- 
gious exercises were conducted by the pastor of the 
Church, Rev. Mr. Bottome. 

Rev. Bishop Janes, Rev. Dr. Curry, Rev. Dr. True 



and Rev. R. M. Hatfield delivered addresses on certain 
topics assigned them by the Committee, relating to the 
ministerial and Christian life of Dr. Floy, and the 
whole service was most solemn and impressive. 

It was not designed to make this memorial service a 
precedent, bnt it was thought that there were special 
reasons which justified this mark of distinguished re- 
spect to the memory of Dr. Floy. 

For a quarter of a century, this eminent Divine had 
sustained very important relations to the denomination 
to which he belonged, and had been especially prominent 
in his devotion to the cause of human freedom. By his 
prudent and loyal course he had been very influential in 
bringing Methodism back to the clear and honest testi- 
mony of the Fathers on the Subject of Slavery, and he 
lived to see the Church of his choice almost united in 
utter condemnation of human bondage. The solemni- 
ties of the occasion were sadly deepened by the absence 
of one of the announced speakers — Rev. Dr. Kennady 
— who at that very hour was shrouded for his own 

This printed account of the "Memorial Service' ' has 
been prepared at the earnest solicitation of a number of 
the persons who were interested in the service, and who 
desire to perpetuate the memory of a great and good 
minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Feb. 15, 1864. 

Gr. W. W. 


Our brother in Adam, our brother in Christ, our 
brother in the holy ministry of Jesus, Rev. James 
Floy, D.D., has suddenly departed this life. He 
has not ceased to be — he has not ceased to act — 
but he has changed the mode of his existence 
and the sphere of his activities greatly to his gain. 
But his translation is our bereavement. Our in- 
terview this evening in the sanctuary of God is 
not on his behalf. He is removed entirely be- 
yond our influence, and neither needs nor can re- 
ceive any kind offices from us. We have met for 
our own edification and comfort ; and the occa- 
sion furnishes several sources of religious profit. 
One is found in the devotional part of the ser- 
vices. Christians do not celebrate their funerals 
with superstitious rites and unmeaning cere- 
monies, but with solemn spiritual devotional 
services, which in their very nature are calcu- 
lated to quicken them in the duties and devotions 
of probationary life, and to further their pre- 
paredness for life eternal It is also profitable 



under these serious circumstances to contem- 
plate the spiritual life and religious services of 
deceased believers, and especially to consider 
them as illustrating the power and plenitude of 
the grace of God. It is to this part of the ser- 
vice of this occasion that I am requested to 
direct your attention. I am sure if our brother 
could suggest to me anything on this topic, he 
would charge me in all my references to his re- 
ligious life to remember the truth — "By grace I 
am what I am," and in all my references to his 
holy ministry to recollect that his sufficiency was 
of God. In my estimation this topic is one of 
great importance and deep interest. The ex- 
amples of the good never perish. They are as 
imperishable as the minds they impress, and as 
enduring as the events and interests they in- 
fluence. The flight of time may leave them far 
to the rear of us, and the conduct of intervening 
generations may intercept them from our sight, 
but they still live and are things of beauty and 
of power in the rubral world. The waters that 
filled the channels of the Hudson, when he, 
whose name it bears, first looked upon its silver 
sheen, probably form no part of the tide of to- 
day that bears upon its ample bosom the most of 
the commerce ajid much of the navy of this great 



nation, and more or less of the commerce and 
navies of the world. Yet but for the current of 
that period the beautiful harbor and great com- 
mercial metropolis of to-day most likely would 
have had no existence. Similar to this is the 
relation of former generations of Christians to 
the present Church of Christ, and so actual is 
our responsibility to the future of the Church of 
Christ in all succeeding generations. Surely 
none of us liveth to himself. The example we 
are now to contemplate will send an influence 
onward till time shall be no more. 

Dr. Ploy was born in the city of New York, 
in Broadway, directly opposite to Astor Place, in 
the year 1806. At that time his mother was a 
member of the Methodist Church — his father a 
member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. 
He, however, soon thereafter united himself with 
the Methodist Church. James first attended 
Sabbath School in St. Mark's Protestant Episco- 
pal Church. He had excellent advantages for 
the cultivation of his mind and the acquisition of 
knowledge. He was married to Miss Jane 
Thacker in 1829. At that time he was a clerk 
in the Methodist Book Concern. He was con- 
verted in the Allen Street Church on the 13th 
of February, 1831, After his conversion, he de* 



Toted most of his leisure time to reading on re- 
ligious subjects, and he gives this statement in 
his journal of that date as one reason for this 
religious reading : — " I had an impression on my 
mind from my childhood that I should be a 
preacher. " His first religious services were 
those of a superintendent of a colored Sunday 
School. His first efforts at public speaking on 
religious topics were his addresses to his scholars, 
most of whom were adults. The first official 
position which he held in the Church was that of 
classleader in this (the Seventh Street) Church. 
He preached his first sermon in the before-men- 
tioned colored Church on the 17th of February, 
1833. His text was Exodus, 14, 15—" And the 
Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou 
unto me ? speak unto the children of Israel, that 
they go forward." And he says concerning that 
service that he " had great liberty in speaking to 
the people." He makes also this entry in his 
journal — " A few weeks after this I tried again 
in the old church in Forsyth Street, by request of 
Rev. D. Ostrander, then in charge. I had a most 
lamentable time, and felt most exceedingly mor- 
tified at what I considered an utter failure. J 
resolved never to try again, gathering assuredly 
that God l)a4 not oallec] me to the ministry/' 



Shortly after, be adds, " My impression seemed 
to deepen, however, that I ought to preach." 
After going through the degrees of exhorter and 
local preacher, and filling appointments at the 
Almshouse, Bridewell, Penitentiary, the House of 
Refuge, &c, he was received on trial at the New 
York Annual Conference in May, 1835. I desire 
to ask your attention to these two statements — 
" He had an impression from his childhood that 
he would be a preacher — this " conviction 
deepened that he ought to preach." With him, 
therefore, the ministry was not a mere choice 
between professions ; he entered upon it from a 
solemn religious conviction that it was duty — 
that God required it at his hands. His first ap- 
pointment was to Riverhead, L. I. In 1836 he 
was appointed to Hempstead as a junior preach- 
er. He states in his journal that " this was a 
prosperous year and a great many were con- 
verted." At the ensuing conference he was or- 
dained a deacon. His third and fourth confer- 
ence years were spent as junior preacher on the 
Harlaem Mission. During the last of these years 
he says — "Many were added to the Lord." His 
fifth appointment was to Kortright Circuit, as 
preacher in charge, but the illness of Mrs. Floy 
prevented him from continuing on the work. A 
1* - 



portion of the year he was pastor of the Wash- 
ington Street Church, Brooklyn, to which Church 
he was reappointed at the two following Confer- 
ences. In 1842 and 1843, he was stationed in 
Banbury, Conn. ; in 1844 and 1845, he was sta- 
tioned at Madison Street Church, New York ; in 
1846 and 1847, he was pastor of the M. B. Church, 
Middleton, Conn. ; in 1848 and 1849, he was sta- 
tioned at the First Church, New Haven ; in 1850 
and 1851, he was reappointed to the Madison 
Street Church, New York : in 1852 and 1853, he 
was stationed at Twenty-seventh Street Church, 
New York ; in 1854 and 1855, he was Presiding 
Elder of the New York East District ; in 1856, 
1857 and 1858, he was editor of the National 
Magazine, Secretary of the Tract Society, and 
editor of Tract publications. In 1859 and 1860, 
he was Secretary of the Tract Society and editor 
of Tract publications ; in 1861 and 1862, he was 
the pastor of this (the Seventh Street) Church. 
At the last session of his Conference he was ap- 
pointed to Beekman Hill Church, Fiftieth Street, 
New York, and at the time of his demise was the 
pastor of that church. He was either assistant 
Secretary or principal Secretary of his Confer- 
ence at fourteen of its sessions. He was three 
times elected a delegate to the General Confer- 



ence and served each time in that capacity. This 
is the record of the events of his life. The posi- 
tions which he occupied in the church are of 
themselves a sufficient proof of the high esteem 
in which lie was held by his brethren, and of the 
confidence reposed in him by the Church ; and 
these of themselves are a sufficient eulogy for 
any man. And yet, it may be proper for me to 
add that in all these appointments and positions 
to which he was called he was always found com- 
petent for the duties and responsibilities which 
they devolved upon him. As a Christian minis- 
ter he was " a workman that needeth not to 
be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 
In the pulpit he was intellectual, practical, spiri- 
tual, scriptural. He perceived his subject clear- 
ly, orderly, comprehensively : he stated it to his 
congregation in the simplest and most expressive 
language. He argued his points briefly, cogently, 
conclusively. His illustrations were always ap- 
posite, — mainly scriptural. His application of 
his subject was more didactic than hortatory — 
more instructive than exciting. His preaching 
was always with profit and edification to those 
who gave him their attention. \ ■■: 

As a pastor he was not among the most active, 
but what pastoral work he did was of th© highest 


kind. Few ministers of my acquaintance are 
more attentive to the poor and the sick of their 
congregations than was he. Sympathizing in 
their afflictions, he was careful and conscientious 
in giving them his attention and both his spiritual 
and his temporal ministries. In his general in- 
tercourse with his congregations he was always 
courteous, affectionate, sympathetic — not mani- 
fested so much, perhaps, in words as in action, 
in the constancy and carefulness of his attention 
to all their interests. The result of such preach- 
ing was the strengthening of believers, the edify- 
ing of the church, the encouraging of all in the 
way of duty and devotion. The influence of such 
pastoral care was that of restoring the sick and 
the lame and recovering those that had wandered 
from the way of understanding ; consequently he 
ever left the churches of which he was pastor, in 
peace, in unity, in strength, and in the most sub- 
stantial prosperity. His position in the Annual 
Conference, and his connection with the General 
Conference pertain to his ministry. I have al- 
ready stated that at fourteen sessions 6f the Con- 
ference he acted as one of the Secretaries — an 
important office, and more difficult and more im- 
portant than is generally supposed ; and no one 
can so well appreciate a good Secretary as he 



who presides over the deliberations of the bod} T . 
Brother Floy was always prompt and ready — 
whether it was to record a transaction, to catch 
a motion and minute it and read it, or to read a 
communication made to the Conference ; in every 
duty of his office he was prompt and ready. His 
journal was brief, correct, chaste, and probably no 
journal went up to the General Conference that 
was more perfect in its composition than that 
which was made by our deceased brother. His offi- 
cial connection with the business of the Confer- 
ence early taught him to understand Conference 
duties and prepared him, I have no doubt, very 
considerably for the important part which he 
subsequently took in the grave transactions of 
the body. He knew the usages, the rules, the 
proprieties of Conference, and he was ready for 
any of its business and for any of its debates. 
In the General Conference he was highly appre- 
ciated. In 1848, he was a member of the Com- 
mittee on the Book Concern ; in 1856, a member 
of the Committee on Itinerancy ; in 1860, a mem- 
ber of the Committee on Revisals — three of the 
more important standing Committees of that 
body ; and in all this Committee business he was 
attentive and was well qualified to consider the 
subjects and to prepare business for the action 



of the Conference. On the General Conference 
floor he seldom spoke, but when he spoke he was 
listened to with respect and deference, and his 
duties as a member of the body were well per- 
formed, and with the manner of their perform- 
ance the Conference he represented always had 
reason to be satisfied. These are the particulars 
of his life, so far as I have been able in these few 
words to sketch it. I have endeavored to do it 
with candor ; I certainly have done it in love — 
for I consider it a matter of thankfulness that 
brother Floy and myself have ever felt toward 
each other a cordial brotherly affection. I loved 
him, not merely in the love of religion, in the 
fellowship of Christ, but as one whom I admired 
and appreciated as a fellow laborer in the vine- 
yard of our Lord. I regarded him as a devoted, 
consistent Christian, a man of religious principle 
and of religious affections — not so impulsive in 
his feelings as some, but steady and strong in his 
allegiance to Christ and his devotion to duty, and 
as a minister, a master builder, who contributed 
largely to the welfare of the Church. He has 
passed away from our sight, but not from our 
love. His example is before us, and could he 
speak to us to-night, I think he would say, (and 
say, perhaps, no more), " Follow me as I followed 



Christ. So far as you saw in me the spirit and 
mind of Christ, and so far as my example was 
conformed to His example, follow me." Breth- 
ren, let us be admonished by his death ; let us be 
edified by his life, and let us seek to renew our 
associations and fellowships with him in the 
world eternal and divine. 


You who have the programme of this even- 
ing's exercises before you will in some faint 
degree sympathize with me in the position in 
which I am placed. It is my lot to-night to dis- 
pense funeral honors, not only to the departed, 
but also instead of the departed. A few short 
hours ago, since which I have not had a leisure 
half-hour, some of the persons having charge of 
these exercises informed me that I would be 
called upon to occupy the place assigned in the 
scheme to him, whose outward form lies cold in a 
neighboring city [Dr. Kennady], but who only a 
few days ago was with us. I then remembered 
a remark I made one short month ago, somewhat 
apologing for the circumstances under which I 
then came before many of the same persons that 
are here ; that such were my relations to our 
deceased brother, Di\ Floy, that I felt I could 
do nothing less than to consent to perform any 
service or occupy any place to which my fellow 
mourners in this bereavement might call me ? 



This must be my apology for consenting, under 
the peculiar circumstances, as I have done, to 
stand before you to-night. 

I feel the difficulty of my position all the more 
when I consider the part that was assigned to 
Dr. Kennady in these services — to present before 
this audience some view of the literary career 
and character of Dr. Floy. The subject is not 
one to be grasped in a moment, not to be pre- 
sented in a hasty, cursory view, but one which 
requires thought, concentration of mind, selec- 
tion of expression, the gleaning of many pearls 
to present them in perfect order. I have no ex- 
pectation of doing justice to the subject, but I 
feel that I may throw myself upon your charity, 
with a good degree of confidence that I shall re- 
ceive it. 

The Church has her wealth in the excellencies 
of her members, and especially of her ministers- — 
a wealth which has scattered blessings by the 
ministrations of the Church, and been enjoyed 
liberally by those to whom these ministrations 
have come. In departing from us, these eminent 
servants of God leave a rich legacy in the odor 
of a good name, in the godly example, in the 
elevated walk, in the form of character impressed 
with living power upon the hearts, the under- 



standings, the consciences of those who see and 
know them. And the range of influence in which 
each one moves, and throughout which the im- 
pression is made, is more or less extended in pro- 
portion to the peculiar form of ministration each 
person occupies. There is doubtless a power in 
the living voice which can find no substitute 
elsewhere. Accordingly, the great Head of the 
Church, in that infinite wisdom which governs in 
all the appointments of the Church of God, has 
ordained His ministry to be a perpetual ordinance 
in His Church, and we very widely dissent from 
those views which are presented by some social- 
ist philosophers, that the press has superceded 
the pulpit. It is rather calling more largely and 
sternly for efficiency and power in the pulpit. 
Just as physical and manual labor is made more 
in demand by the introduction and use of ma- 
chinery, however complicated and exact that 
machinery may be, so the increased influences 
and efficiencies which go forth from the press 
only make the larger demands for efficiency and 
adaptation in the pulpit. This, therefore, pre- 
sents to us a strong plea in favor of the strongest, 
the best, the most thoroughly cultivated Christ- 
ian ministry. The wants of the age demand it ; 
the times and circumstances of society all make 



larger claims upon the pulpit than in the absence 
of those peculiar facilities for the diffusion of 
knowledge and social influences, which some have 
supposed would even supersede, or at least place 
in a secondary position, the pulpit in its influence 
upon mind. We are therefore called upon, in 
this view of the subject, to contemplate our de- 
parted brother as filling a most important and 
very necessary place in the Christian ministry — 
for he was an educated man, taking that term in 
its best and broadest sense. 

We have heard, as perhaps we all knew before, 
in the sketch that has been given of his early 
life, that his early advantages were above ordi- 
nary. Even in infancy and in more advanced 
youth his pursuits of study reached out beyond 
ordinary ; that is, he was among those few who 
devoted many of the best years of his advancing 
youth to close, earnest study, under the best of 
preceptors. He became classically educated, and 
perhaps in very few instances has the effect upon 
mind of a classical education been better demon- 
strated. Those effects we do not hesitate to say 
have no substitute, and the mind of James Ploy 
was ever a living demonstration that there was a 
power in classical culture which raised the mind, 
elevated the thoughts and gave a power of exi 



pression and beauty, of diction and of combination 
that commanded attention and reverence from 
all who heard him. Now we think this is the 
explanation, taking a merely human view of the 
subject, of many of those excellencies we have 
heard of to-night, and which we remember as we 
call to mind our own acquaintance with him. It 
arose directly out of that rigid culture of mind, 
that strong, earnest discipline of the spirit, that 
awakening and calling forth into vigorous action 
the esthetic elements of his nature, to see what 
was right, correct, and according to good taste, 
and embodied in appropriate forms of expression, 
so as to commend it to the judgment and ap- 
proval of all. 

Dr. Floy's literary reputation stands before 
his friends and those who knew him in somewhat 
a peculiar aspect. He was not an author. He 
never aspired to that in anything that he did as 
a man of letters. It was perhaps, if we might 
speak thus, the great error of his life that it was 
so. I have thought so. I have thought so while 
he lived ; I think so now, when certainly he can 
produce no more. And yet, he has accomplished 
very much, if it must be transitory, as all things 
of this kind are transitory ; yet doubtless it has 
been and will be effective. The distinguishing 



characteristic of Dr. Floy's mind was a rigid, 
clear, strong expression. His taste, which was a 
distinguished characteristic with him, was severe. 
Hence, he became of necessity a critic. Now, I 
am aware that to some minds there is scarcely 
any word that can be used that is more offensive, 
at least distasteful, than this word ; yet I hesitate 
not to say that in all the vocabulary there is no 
other epithet more appropriate to him, nor any 
other art in which he excelled so much as in 
criticism. It was a matter of necessity with him 
that he should be critical. So clearly did he 
perceive what was correct and according to good 
taste, so certainly did he grasp the idea, so cor- 
rectly did his mind pass judgment upon the thing 
that came before him, that by the very necessity 
of his mental state he became a critic. This 
marked a large amount of what he wrote for the 
press. He is, perhaps, better known to the 
Methodist community, and beyond the Methodist 
community, by his contributions to Methodist 
periodicals — especially the Quarterly Review — 
than he is known any otherwise. And I, perhaps, 
do not speak very boldly nor assume that which 
it would be difficult to make you believe, if I 
should assume that among the class of writers — 
not a very small class either at this time — who 



have specially distinguished themselves in this 
department of literature, he occupied a very high 
place. His reviews, his literary essays upon 
different subjects, modified in each case by the 
subject upon which each of them was written, 
stand among the current literature of the times 
upon an elevated basis. There was always 
thought in them. He had something to write 
about. He wrote generally because he could not 
help it. It was in him, and it sought for utter- 
ance ; he spoke from the fullness of his own 
heart and feelings. And there was ever present 
this peculiarity, which is clearly in unison with 
another distinctive feature of his mind, that I am 
not now called to speak of, that is, his honesty to 
his own convictions. He always said what he 
believed, and in the exercise of his taste and his 
literary judgment he uttered what he felt in such 
a manner as to be very readily understood by 
those that read what he had written. It is well 
worth one's while that has any interest in this 
subject, to take up the back numbers of the 
Methodist Quarterly Review for the past twenty- 
odd years — I think the beginning of his writing 
was an article of the old series, twenty -five years 
ago, when Dr. Luckey was editor. You may ex- 
amine through the pages and you will find the 



same characteristics pervading the whole of them 
— rigid taste, and correctness of thought, sym- 
metrical embodiment, a clearness through which 
his thoughts stood out in such a form that you 
knew what he meant ; — that he meant so much, 
and no more. And throughout the whole of it 
vou may look in vain for that which many literary 
men have fallen into — a case of bad grammar, an 
instance of a wrong collocation of words, an allu- 
sion which is not perfectly chaste, in the literary 
sense of that term. In these particulars he was 
a marked man, and would stand high among the 
literary men of any place or of any group of 
them that you might gather together. It was well 
said by Dr. McClintock that he never wrote 
a sentence of bad English, and to have elicited 
that from such a man as McClintock was praise 
enough, if I only utter it at second hand. I 
have, perhaps, read nearly everything he has 
written of this kind, for reasons which are to me 
very satisfactory. As he wrote because he could 
not help it, I read because I could not help it. 
I was pretty sure to thoroughly go through and 
thoroughly consider whatever come from his pen. 
When he wrote anonymously I read, first allured 
by the sprightly, vivid energy of the style, pre- 
sently drawn on by the argument which, perhaps, 


I did not believe at the time yet was at least 
constrained to honor it ; until I could have 
written the name at the bottom of it. But as a 
literary man, Dr. Floy never forgot his position 
in his moral and religious relations. Take those 
same reviews and look them over and you may 
find there certain characteristics standing out. 
There is a clearness of expression, and a forcible- 
ness of thought ; but in all these particulars, 
though he was eminently a free thinker, there is 
the most rigid orthodoxy. I have thought he 
erred on that side sometimes, and yet it is a very 
safe side to err upon. You may find another 
thing. There is never a sentence uttered in one 
of those pieces that does not perfectly conform 
to the position which he had taken in favor of 
humanity. Whether he wrote of the Puritans or 
of other men, (and I might call up in order the 
several subjects of his review,) I think you will 
constantly find this same living truth. He had 
confidence in humanity. He was a democrat, in 
the true meaning of a much-abused word ; he 
called himself by that name, and he meant some- 
thing by it. He used the word, when he used it, 
with all the fullness of a soul that was in sympa- 
thy with humanity. All his compositions and 
writings speak out the same sentiment as a living 



principle that burned in his heart and was em- 
bodied in the language which he used. It should 
be observed that while severe criticism must be 
and generally is the more severe in proportion to 
its truth, that in all his criticism there is that 
evident appreciation of excellence, that ability 
to gather up valuables out of a vast amount of 
rubbish— to thoroughly winnow the chaff and to 
gather out of it, though they were but few, the 
grains of precious wheat. You will find this in 
his critical essays most forcibly and excellently 
manifested. I perhaps ought, in the few min- 
utes I am to speak to you, to allude to a depart- 
ment of literature into which, connected with his 
ministry, much of his thoughts and not a very 
little of his labor were directed — that is, litera- 
ture designed for youth. One of the last things 
that he did on the day of his decease was to 
write out a chapter in a book designed for child- 
ren — a book on Christian Doctrine for Sabbath 
Schools. The Sabbath School teachers present 
know something about his more recent publica- 
tions, designed for Sabbath School instruction ; 
and others that can remember longer ago will 
recollect certain publications of his that have 
gone forth for the aid of Sabbath School teachers, 
to encourage, and aid, and instruct them, and 



lead them onward. There is one publication 
of his known to all the juveniles, (and if I were 
talking to children I should be appreciated)— a 
little story book, the scene of the story located 
in this city, which all the children read, which, 
perhaps, will be found in almost every Methodist 
family, and many others. In all these particu- 
lars it is a model book of the kind. It would be 
well for writers for Sunday Schools and youth to 
make Harry Budcl their model book. I suppose 
I disclose no literary secret in naming that book 
as one of his productions. I conversed with him 
once in regard to it, and asked him why he did 
not pursue that kind of writing. He said, " I 
doubted whether I could ; I felt something like 
that in me ; I wrote a story and gave to the 
public ; now I am satisfied." He was satisfied 
to stop at that point, and has left us only enough 
to cause regret that he had not done more. Not 
to detain you any longer, I will call your atten- 
tion to Dr. Floy's great literary work. Here is 
his monument (pointing to the Methodist Hymn 
Booh). You may raise others in bronze and in 
marble, but that book will be his monument for 
generations to come — for I hesitate not to say 
that the hymn book of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church is the work of James Floy. I knew this 



while he lived ; I knew it when it was in process 
of making. I was in counsel with him, not as a 
literary adviser particularly, but as a friend in 
communion with him, when he unfolded to me 
many of the facts connected with the " revisal," 
as it was first named, of the old hymn book. But 
it is not the old hymn book revised, it is a new 
hymn book, largely made out of material not 
found in the old one, and what was there found 
was perfectly recast, so that there is no more of 
that book than of Watts's Hymns or some other 
books that might be named, only as a large pro- 
portion was drawn from that book. We, who see 
the result simply as presented to us in the finish- 
ed volume, can form but little notion of the 
amount of literary labor it cost to produce that 
work. As soon may you take up a piece of 
beautiful needlework, never having seen that sort 
of work done, or look upon one of the pictures of 
the old masters, or a statue, and comment upon 
it in point of finish, and appreciate from that 
view of the finished work, the thought, the man- 
ual labor and the exercise that is necessary to 
accomplish a work of that kind. Those that have 
been on the inside and seen this handiwork 
in its processes and in its unfinished condition 
are much better prepared to appreciate it than 



those who only see the finished work. I will tell 
you the impression made upon me in regard to 
this matter. By the kindness of his friends I 
got hold of his own copy of the hymn book, one 
of the largest edition, with broad margins. The 
valuable part of it to me was in his own hand- 
writing and in pencil marks upon those margins. 
There is in that volume an amount of literary 
history that would fill whole volumes of D 1 1sraeli 
and others of that kind — an amount of criticism, 
close, exact, intelligent, that could not be em- 
bodied but for the peculiar form in which it is 
there written in books many times larger than 
the entire volume. Those notes may be studied 
with a great deal of interest and a great deal of 
instruction, but when you come to take the 
hymns as they were when they came into his 
hand and compare them as they are as they 
came to us, you will have more directly before 
your mind, — you will then perceive more clearly 
the value of the work which he accomplished. 
It is a very common thing to deal a little severely 
with the emendators of the great poets. I wish 
all the great poets had had a James Floy to re- 
copy their compositions ; they would thank him 
as long as he lived and bless his memory. In 
regard to most of the writings of the masters of 



hynmology, lie has done them a very great favor 
in presenting in better forms than they had done 
the hymns that they in the fullness of poetical 
inspiration produced. There is this further 
thought about it. The business of the poet and 
that of the hymn-maker are two things. Poets 
manufacture the raw material and throw it off 
in large pieces more commonly ; the hymn-maker 
must produce it in compressed forms, must keep 
it within eight and thirty-two lines, and must 
embody a complete thought or series of thoughts 
within those limits — so set off as to lead the 
devotions of the congregation. We believe that 
this is accomplished in the Methodist hymn book 
beyond anything else which is to be found in the 
English language — a language in which the best 
hymns of the world are written. If these re- 
marks shall lead any of you to a more careful 
study of our hymn book, and to do that which the 
older portion of the congregation have done a 
good many times, compare the hymns as they 
are, with what they were in the past time, we 
shall be all the more interested in this compari- 
son, and in proportion as our taste is chastened 
and corrected, and in proportion as we can divest 
ourselves of the prepossessions in favor of forms 
of expression with which we were familiar ii^ 



earlier times, we shall come to estimate more 
highly the work that has been accomplished on 
the Methodist hymn book. I fear to detain you 
longer, speaking thus purely extemporaneously 
upon these matters, though the theme may be 
one upon which I could converse freely and, to 
myself, interestingly, yet I prefer to leave the 
matter with you. The reputation of our brother 
who has gone at. the call of God from us now is, 
as I remarked in the beginning, our inheritence. 
He has left it to us. We rejoice in it ; we will 
cherish that inheritence. He has enriched many 
by other means as well as by his writing, though 
he has through them reached very many of the 
cultivated minds of the country. The Confer- 
ence of which he was a member has grown up 
under his tuition, and he has cast his shadow, (if 
light ever can be expressed by the name of 
shadow), over a great many minds. He has held 
in his hands as an examiner and instructor the 
larger portion of the members of the N. Y. East 
Conference, and I venture to say not one suscep- 
tible, of such influences, for good has ever passed 
through his hands in this relation that has not 
profited by it and is not the better for it. It 
was said sometimes that the young men were 



afraid of him — if so, it was generally much more 
so before examination than after; only certain 
classes of them were fearful of him afterward. 
He has elevated the intellectual tone, the culture, 
and the taste of the clerical body to which he 
belonged. This power, which went out from 
him, and which pressed itself upon the body, will 
exert a widening and a deepening influence 
through all coming time. 


James Floy was one whose character had 
many sides, and every side was bright. I held 
in my hands to-day, for the first time in my life, 
a diamond of great value — perhaps the richest 
diamond in this very opulent city. As I held 
it up, the light flashed from every side ; which- 
ever way I turned it, there was a fresh original 
beam, as from a font of light. And so it seems to 
me the creative hand of God and the inspiring 
grace of the Holy Spirit made the character 
which is now passing in review before us. 
Of all the aspects of this character, of all the 
bright beams that come from this many-sided 
diamond, the red gleam of liberty is to my mind 
the brightest. Without it, in this nation, under 
the circumstances in which he lived and died, his 
character would have been imperfect ; not if he 
had been called to exercise his ministry in the 
moon, or where there is no African Slavery, 
but in this world, and in this nation, where from 
the first it has corrupted our civilization, not to 


have declared against it, would have shown a sad 
deficiency in Christian ministerial character. 

It was, perhaps, a mere accident, but it hap- 
pened that I was the very last person at Harlem 
to step forward just as the coffin lid was to close 
forever over the face of James Floy, to take a 
look, a last look, at his manly features ; and with 
the reflections thus inspired in my mind I left the 
carriage in Fifth Avenue which had conveyed 
me towards my home, and passing down that 
beautiful street, I came to the ghastly ruins of 
the asylum of the colored orphans, standing up 
charred and broken in the light of the moon, 
which was just then mingling with parting day. 
And when I saw this gloomy monument of that 
pro-slavery fanaticism which has swept over this 
country,, kindling the most fearful civil war the 
world has ever known, and throwing its red and 
lurid waves upon our city, I felt glad in my heart 
that my buried brother had declared himself 
against it. I said in the fullness of my heart, 
" my brother, thou didst stand up in thy place 
manfully and declare in the name of God, that 
this system was a wrong, an outrage, an abom- 
ination !— contrary to that blessed Gospel which 
proclaims liberty to the captive, and which 
designs everywhere to correct the civilization of 
mankijid and so to bring back lost Eden to the 



world, -that every man may sit under his own 
vine and fig tree, with none to molest him or to 
make him afraid. " 

And now do yon ask, what was the character 
of the anti-slaveryism of James Floy? I think I 
may answer, now that his life is closed, that it 
was ; a wise and discriminating antagonism of 
slavery. He did not believe it to be proper to 
attempt by violence to free the slaves of this 
country in the spirit of the brave and heroic old 
John Brown. If it were right, it did not appear 
to him to be at all expedient. Nor did he regard, 
with Wendell Phillips and Garrison, the Consti- 
tution of these United States as- a league with 
oppression, and as unworthy, in this respect, of 
the homage and reverence' of the nation. He 
considered it as good a compact as could have 
been expected from States, every one of which, 
save one, was a slave State ; and he- saw even in 
the compromises of the Constitution indications 
of hostility to the perpetuity of this great evil. 
He felt, therefore, that he should obey that Con- 
stitution and should endeavor to maintain it and 
to render it effectual for the peace of this nation 
and the union of the States. Such was his feel- 
ing. Nor did he, on the other hand, hold, with 
Cheever and Goodell, that the Constitution was 


an abolition document, that it gave to the Gen- 
eral Government power over slavery within the 
States, that it freed every slave child at its birth, 
and therefore the national government is guilty 
in the last degree for the continuance of slavery 
after the first generation. He never was found 
among those that were disposed to blame the 
government, even in this tremendous strife in 
which we are engaged for the life of the nation, 
in not at the first coming out for the destruction 
of the system within the interior of the States. 
Such were not his views. I will not argue for or 
against these views, but they were not his views. 

His view of the subject in its political relations 
was that generally known as the Union and Ee- 
publican view of slavery. He believed that the 
General Governmemt had power over this evil 
in the national domain everywhere exterior to 
the States ; in the territories, in the District of 
Columbia, in the navy yards and dock yards, in 
the arsenals, and on board the national ships. He 
believed it to be his duty to labor in his private 
capacity, and so far as he could in his public ca- 
pacity, by writing, speaking, and voting, to arrest 
the advancement of slavery, and for its suppres- 
sion, so far as it was within the power of the 
national government to suppress it by statute 



and by law. He believed, further, that in his 
ministerial capacity it was his duty to touch 
upon the moral aspects of slavery, and to com- 
mend to the people everywhere a righteous hos- 
tility to what our Discipline has called a great 
evil, when it says, " What shall be done for the 
extirpation of the great evil of slavery?" Doubt- 
less the Church here means moral evil, for the 
Church does not meddle with political and com- 
mercial matters ; but it has to do, and it must 
have to do, with all the moral aspects of society 
everywhere in the nation and in the world. 
James Floy believed that it was his duty to in- 
sist upon the moral evil of slavery, and to exer- 
cise all the power of moral suasion to suppress 
it. Some object that slavery was a matter re- 
served by the States to manage for themselves, 
but he felt that, however it might be with his 
political influence, derived from the Constitution 
of the nation, it was his right and his duty, 
as a minister of Christ and as a philanthropist, 
to make every moral suggestion as freely as if 
there were no Constitutional reservations, — for 
he felt, as has been very beautifully expressed 
by a certain author, that " moral influences, like 
the winds of heaven, sweep past all boundaries 
they know no geography, they know no State 



limits. We never can compromise the truth, 
" the Word of God is not bound/ 7 and our fathers 
never designed to restrict freedom of speech, but 
to protect it, when they made the Constitution, of 
the United States. 

Brother Floy connected himself early in his 
ministry with certain anti-slavery organizations 
bearing the name of the Church. But the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1836 expressed itself hostile 
to all agitating movements, as they were called, 
and advised the ministry wholly to abstain from 
them. This Conference sat in Cincinnati, and, 
"like all the other great representative Councils of 
the Churches at that time, was under the terror of 
this great evil. We have been afraid ; we are'al- 
ways afraid on this subject. I am afraid even 
now, you are all afraid that I shall not speak exact- 
ly as I should speak on this delicate topic ! The 
General Conference had this fear; it amounted to 
a panic ; and at that time they did prohibit these 
agitating measures. Yet in their pastoral ad- 
dress they said " if any brother have scruples in 
regard to this matter, let him speak with defer- 
ence to the feelings of his brethren." So the Gen- 
eral Conference was not wholly swept away with 
this fearful tide. It happened after this General 
Conference that a Methodist Anti-slavery Con- 



vention was called in the State of New York, in 
the City of Utica. Brother Ploy and some 
members of the New York. Conference attended 
that Convention. The subject of slavery was in- 
troduced very prominently, as it was the main 
object of the Convention, but also certain ques- 
tions of Conference rights and Episcopal pre- 
rogatives, and other ecclesiastical matters. Bro. 
Floy was averse to the consideration of these 
questions in an assembly called for the main pur- 
pose of considering the action of the Church on 
the subject of slavery. When his Annual Con- 
ference met he was called in question for his at- 
tendance at that Convention, and the case took 
the form of a charge against him and a trial. The 
charge was contumacy and insubordination, be- 
cause he had gone contrary to the advice of the . 
General Conference and his own Conference. 
He defended himself against this charge. You 
recollect, many of you, the scene that was pre- 
sented in Greene Street Church on that occasion. 
All the bishops then living were present ; there 
was a rally on this subject, I think ; but perhaps 
they were called together on the business of 
their administration. The two New York Con- 
ferences, then one body — ministers from all 
parts of the country, North and South — were 


present, and the members of the Church thronged 
the galleries. James Floy, conscious that he had 
really violated no proper law of the Church, that 
he had not done anything which his conscience 
condemned, defended himself for three long hours. 
The feelings of the people, I believe, and the 
hearts of the preachers were with him, but their 
fears (for it was a reign of terror throughout the 
land) or their prejudices led them nevertheless 
to pronounce his condemnation and his suspen- 
sion from all the functions of the Christian min- 
istry ! Only nine good brethren had the moral 
courage, I must say it, to stand up on his side. Our 
worthy chairman, Brother Griswold, was one, as 
you see by his nod ; there is another in the altar 
(pointing to Mr. Landon), and, besides myself, 
there may be others present this evening that 
constituted that glorious minority ! 

It was an able speech that Brother Floy made 
on that occasion. He did not know how he was 
succeeding in his defence, but as I sat by him 
sympathizing with him, during a pause in the 
Conference action, I recollect with pleasure, 
he addressed himself to me, " Charley, how 
am I getting along ?" "Bravely, James!" said 
I; " Go ahead!" He xook courage from that 
circumstance, as he related to his son subse- 



quently. He should have gained his cause, 
brethren, but he lost it, and he was suspended in 
consequence. On the third day after this he 
made a written statement to this effect, that 
" without referring to the past proceedings of the 
Conference, he wrmld for the future submit to 
their requirements so long as he was a member 
of that body." He made no confession, no recan- 
tation. There was no question of principle or 
of doctrine, but simply of measures. On receiv- 
ing this, the Conference was glad, I think, to re- 
move his suspension. That good brother who 
would have been here to-night had not God 
wanted him more in heaven — Brother Kennady — 
was his antagonist on this subject, as he was to 
the end of his life on some of the side issues. 
Dr. Kennady came to him, put his arms affection- 
ately around him and urged him to take that 
course. As he left Brother Floy and returned 
to his seat, some one said to him, "Don't per- 
suade him, he is a stubborn fellow ; he will give 
us trouble, let him alone but Dr. Kennady saw 
that he could give that pledge without a sacrifice 
of principle. To many minds there appears to 
be a cloud here on the fame of Dr. Floy, and I 
do not know that I can dissolve it, but I will speak 
for him as he would have done for xne if he had 


survived me. There is a paradox between that 
submission to the Conference and his subsequent 
well-known anti-slavery course, even to the last. 
What submission could he make, and yet go on 
in the way in which we have known him as an 
anti-slavery man ? True, he has not at any one 
time in his pulpit ministrations said a great deal 
on this subject ; but having taken this course, the 
few words that he uttered in prayer or in preaching 
struck like the lightning till very recently. Now 
you can hear anything, but a whisper once was 
like a clap of thunder in a congregation. His 
prayers, his references, his apt allusions, his illus- 
trations, and especially on days of national thanks- 
giving and fasting, and other public occasions, 
when it is expected that ministers should draw 
ear to these general subjects, his words went forth 
with power. In the Conference he has of late 
years been in the front rank of the anti-slavery 
movement. What submission, then, did he make ? 
What is the explanation of this ? . 

My brethren, in our great anti-slavery zeal, not 
too great for the subject, but for the best success 
in changing the public mind and accomplishing 
our object, we have been in danger of doing in- 
justice to our opponents. I would not dare to do 
injustice to any ope on such an occasion as this. 



The slightest act of injustice, though it were to 
an insect, would cast a shadow over the character 
of the Almighty himself. I wish to be a just 
man, if I am nothing else. I say, then, the Annual 
Conference, hostile as it was to abolition, did not 
formally require anything but abstinence from 
those agitating measures w T hich were the subjects 
of complaint in the trial ; certainly they did not ex- 
press themselves so as to require anything else.. 
In his pledge as to his future course, he engaged 
merely to withdraw from the objectionable asso- 
ciations, and to act independently of them in his 
opposition to slavery in the church. So you per- 
ceive what he agreed to was simply this, that he 
would act alone, act independently of the offen- 
sive organizations ; and I declare, if the whole 
thing were to come back again, I would advise any 
young minister in an itinerant connection, seeing 
we are liable to go everywhere and anywhere in 
our ministry — I Would advise every man on such 
agitating subjects to be independent, because he 
cannot be responsible under the circumstances for 
anything but his own declarations of truth. He had 
a right to attend that Convention ; the General 
Conference stretched itself top far m interdicting 
such measures ; so did the Annual Conference, 
fie confessed net that he done wrong, because he 



made no reference to the past, but he saw after 
he found his Conference so set against him, it was 
inexpedient and ineffectual to go on in that way. 
The position which he took was that deliberately 
adopted by one of the greatest champions of lib- 
erty, Dr. Channing, of Boston, who from the first 
declined connecting himself with the abolition 
societies, because, though with them in the main 
object, he did not wish to be held responsible for 
any views but his own. Some have reflected upon 
our brother for the course he took, but his mind 
had many sides, and among his strongest sentiments 
was affection for the church, and the idea of being 
a schismatic was to him fearful, next to the idea 
of being pro-slavery. He did not wish to go on 
in this course in any way which would oblige him 
to be a radical revolutionist in the Church. As 
we saw there was danger of that, as time revealed 
in the separation of a large and respectable body 
from the M. E. Church now known as the Wes- 
ley an Methodist Church. He preferred to cleave 
to the Church and to the Conference, and go on as 
far as he could in his opposition to slavery, en- 
deavoring to get the Church right, and so he toiled 
on to the end of life. I must say that I believe 
in this, he showed a martyr spirit. We have 



heard of our early ministers and bishops traveling 
in this country in the early times, exposed to the 
ferocity of wild beasts and more ferocious men, 
sleeping in the swamps and lying in the snows ; 
we have awarded to them a heroic crown, but 
not one in my judgment of the heroes of early 
Methodism have suffered such martyrdom as this 
man in giving up measures connected with the 
cause for which he had the deepest interest— the 
glorious enthusiasm of liberty. He would not 
have yielded, had he not seen that the object would 
be reached in another way. In the end he had 
the happiness of seeing the Church thoroughly 
leavened with the anti-slavery sentiment, and 
taking a foremost position in the cause of liberty. 
As soon as the proper time arrived, he joined with 
his brethren in establishing the first anti-slavery 
society of the New York East Conference, and 
was elected President. He is worthy on this oc- 
casion of our most earnest encomiums, and the 
brightest laurels that we can lay upon his coffin. In 
conclusion, I would say that he held his interest 
in the anti-slavery cause from the time that he 
preached his first sermon in that colored church to 
the time when this war in its operations began to 
rescue the slaves of the South. He went down 


among the freedmen at Port Eoyal. An eye-wit- 
ness told me that he penetrated the plantations, 
and made himself fully acquainted with the con- 
dition of the colored people. He preached, talked, 
prayed among them, and came back with his 
mind fully impressed that our Church ought to 
send out duly appointed missionaries to various 
places opening to us out of the deluge of war. 
He labored with the Board of Managers on this 
subject ; they gave him their attention, but he did 
not quite persuade them till the General Missionary 
Committee came along and so endorsed his views 
that three thousand dollars, as a contingent fund, 
was appropriated for this purpose, subject to the 
discretion of the Bishops and Board of Managers. 

They thought, to use the picturesque language of 
the distinguished Secretary, Dr. Durbin, that 
" young liberty was about to be born upon the bor- 
der, and the Church should be there as a nursing 
mother." At the moment of his death, sitting as a 
king upon his sofa, a gleam of light w r ould have fall- 
en upon his brow, if he had received the good news 
which our Secretary can now report to us, of thirty- 
five thousand dollars appropriated to reclaiming 
our Church southward and establishing missions 
among the freedmen. 



As I see my brother Hatfield is impatient to 
take his place, I will conclude. The great mis- 
fortune as well as the glory of this man was that 
he was always just a little ahead of his time ; the 
light of the advancing age fell first upon him ; he 

" the tops of distant thoughts 

Which men of common stature never saw." 

He died seeing the system of slavery put in such a 
position that the General Government, with its 
mighty armies and navies, is advancing by the 
inexorable necessity of war to crush it in their 
advance to restore the Union. He has gone ; 
he has reached heaven ; he has got home. What- 
ever may be the results of this war, or any of our 
exertions to overthrow the slave-power which has 
desolated our nation and our Church, he is free 
from it forever ; he has reached the land where 
" the wicked cease from troubling and where the 
weary are at rest ; where the servant is free from 
his master and they hear not the voice of the op- 


For more than twenty-five years Dr. Floy 
was a man of mark among his brethren of the 
ministry, and for the last twelve or fifteen years 
of his life was recognized as one of the leaders 
of the New York East Conference. More than 
any other man he has molded the character and 
influenced the action of that body, and his re- 
moval by death leaves a vacancy that no man 
living can fill. Dr. Olin once said that he desired 
to make friends of men younger than himself, for 
the reason that young men as a class were less 
worldly, and more frank and fearless than those 
who are farther advanced in life. Whether Dr. 
Floy adopted and acted upon this principle I do 
not know, but he certainly drew around him and 
made friends of young and progressive men to a 
remarkable extent. Not only was he beloved 
by these, but he secured and retained the respect 
and esteem of brethren of all classes, and of 


every shade of opinion. To those of us who 
knew him well, it was no matter of surprise that 
he held through so many years this position of 
honor and influence. His qualities of mind and 
heart so fitted him for leadership that he could 
never have held an inferior place in any body, 
civil or ecclesiastical. But what was it that 
gave Dr. Floy his position, and the power he 
wielded in the Conference to which he belonged ? 
In attempting to answer this question, I hope 
not to be uncharitable or to wound the feelings 
of any, but I must be frank and honest, and speak 
of Dr. Floy as he seemed to me during the years 
of our acquaintance. And first of all I want to 
say most decidedly that Dr. Floy did not secure 
or hold his place by intrigue or management. I 
should scorn to make this remark but for the fact 
that every sagacious and far-seeing man is ac- 
cused, or suspected, of resorting to the acts of 
the demagogue in accomplishing his purposes. 
It is much to be regretted that the world at large 
has such abundant faith in craft and manage- 
ment, and so little confidence in downright hon- 
esty. Yet thorough honesty is wise and strong, 
while intrigue and cunning are short-sighted and 
weak. It is not to be denied that some men, 
from the possession of certain foxy and serpent- 



like qualities, do sometimes climb or glide into 
positions to which they would never rise in the 
use of honest and manly means. But this crafty 
management in the ordinary affairs of life, and 
seen among politicians, generally proves to be of 
no more real value than the waxen wings of Ica- 
rus. Those who rise by these questionable 
means only rise to fall into an abyss of shame 
and misery. And reproach is cast upon the 
character of Methodist preachers when it is in- 
sinuated that they can be permanently influenced 
by an adroit trickster. Finesse and management 
are never taken to a worse market than when 
carried to an Annual Conference. There was 
nothing of the sycophant in the nature of Dr. 
Floy; he used no "flattering words" in his in- 
tercourse with his friends, though I have known 
him to faithfully rebuke them when the occasion 
called for it. He gained his place of honor 
among his brethren in the use of means that 
were creditable alike to his head and his heart. 

In attempting an estimate of his character we 
remark, first, that his intellectual endorvments were of 
a superior order. He was not a genius, using the 
word in its popular acceptation, but his mind 
was remarkable for clearness and vigor. He 
lived in an atmosphere so free from clouds and 



mists that he saw objects, not " as trees walking," 
but distinctly and in their just proportions. His 
intellect was not of the flashy and superficial 
order ; everything about it was compact, sub- 
stantial, and vigorous. And these qualities were 
apparent in all that he did. No intelligent per- 
son could hear him in the pulpit without feeling 
that his sermons were the product of a superior 
and well disciplined mind. As a writer he was 
direct and forcible, and in all his writings are few 
words that we would willingly erase or forget. 
For all affectation, cant, and bombast, either in 
speaking or writing, he had a thorough contempt. 
A mind like Dr. Floy's always makes itself felt in 
the world ; it is a power that must be recognized 
and appreciated. 

Another noticeable trait in the character of Dr. 
Floy was the energy of his will. He had a strength 
of purpose and a force of character that carried 
him through triumphantly the obstacles that baffle 
and discourage weak and irresolute men. When 
he had deliberately adopted a principle there was 
no human or infernal power that could wrench it 
from his grasp. A purpose once formed he clung 
to with a constancy that nothing could shake. 
Defeat and ultimate failure in the path of duty he 



seemed never to regard as possible. Others, swayed 
by their interests or influenced by their fears, might 
abandon their principles, or talk of retreat or com- 
promise, but there was no faltering on his part. 
With the same strength in his soul, and the same 
calm courage beaming from his eye, he remained 

" Constant as the northern star, 

Of whose true, fixed, and resting quality 
There is no fellow in the firmament." 

He was no reed shaken in the wind, but a royal 
oak deep rooted and so strong limbed as to care 
little for the storm and the tempest, however they 
might rave and howl. Men may call this obsti- 
nacy, but the Lord creates no great soul without 
endowing it with this sterling quality. 

Another element of power in the character of 
Dr. Floy was found in the fact that he under- 
stood and correctly estimated his own, intellectual 
resources. I hardly know of a more pitiful fallacy 
than the popular notion that a great and good 
man should habitually disparage himself and 
undervalue his abilities. This voluntary humility 
is worse, if possible, than the egotism it is sup- 
posed to antagonize. Dr. Floy was no egotist — 
indeed his freedom from pride and vanity always 
seemed to me a marked trait in his character, 


But he understood the wealth of his own re- 
sources, and knew how available they were 
whenever he had occasion to use them. And this 
gave repose and dignity to his character. He 
was so well-poised as never to be surprised or 
thrown off his balance. He was not conceited, 
but he had confidence in himself, especially in 
the decisions of his own judgment, as all really 
strong men have. It is a confession of conscious 
weakness when an individual runs hither and 
thither asking advice in cases where his own 
conscience and judgment should guide him. Dr. 
Floy never betrayed this weakness. He decided 
questions of truth and duty for himself, and was 
little troubled by opposition or adverse criticism. 
His judgment was eminently sound and reliable, 
and he did well to treat it with respect and con- 
fidence. He had too much self-respect to claim 
the deference of his brethren, but they very 
cheerfully conceded it to him as his due. His 
influence in the Conference was enhanced by his 
great ability as a debater, I know of no class of 
men more ready and able in debate than Method- 
ist preachers. The frequency with which they 
come together, and the character of the discus- 
sions in which they engage, are eminently favora- 
ble to effective off-hand speaking. Dr. Floy was 



not a talkative man either at Conference or else- 
where. It has been said of 'him, with great pro- 
priety, that while other men grew weak by talk- 
ing he grew strong by silence. There were times 
when, for clays together, his voice was hardly 
heard on the floor of the Conference. But when 
the occasion called for it he was always ready to 
speak, and whenever he spoke, those who heard 
him were ready to say, " how forcible are right 
words." After a question had been perverted 
by sophistical and one-sided representations, it 
was a treat to see James Floy with quiet delib- 
eration step into the arena. His first sentences 
showed the strength and skill of a master, and 
cut clear to the heart and marrow of the subject 
in debate ; and then he dealt his ponderous 
blows right and left till it was only a very strong 
or a very stupid antagonist that did not quail 
under them. It has been my good fortune to 
hear many of the best speakers of our country at 
the bar, in the halls of legislation, on the plat- 
form, and at civil and ecclesiastical gatherings — 
and I have rarely or never heard some of the 
best efforts of Dr. Floy excelled. It was a great 
intellectual treat to hear him when he was fairly 
aroused. It required some great question, like 
those pertaining to the rights of humanity, to call 


him out ; and when he grappled with such a 
question he was magnificent. There was fire in 
his eye, thunder in his voice, and power in his 
every word, look, and gesture. He did not affect 
the arts and graces of an elocutionist, but spoke 
right on with commanding eloquence just because 
he saw clearly and felt profoundly. His denun- 
ciations of inhumanity and injustice were some- 
times terrific, scathing whatever they touched 
like a thunderbolt from heaven. It will be asked 
whether this vehement energy was quite con- 
sistent with the charity and gentleness of the 
Gospel. I am speaking of my departed friend 
as he seemed to me, and I should be very unwill- 
ing to forget him as he appeared on those occa- 
sions when his whole nature was fired with a holy 
hatred of wrong. I do not say that he never 
erred on such occasions, but I have no wish to 
11 enter on my list of friends" the man who is 
always as mild and balmy as a morning in June, 
and who can speak on the most exciting ques- 
tions with no quickening of his pulse, or change 
in the tones of his voice. There are some things 
upon which no man ought to be able to look 
without feeling his heart grow hot within him. 
The obligation to love the true and the beautiful 
is not more binding than the duty of hating the 



false and the odious. We are to abhor that 
which is evil, as well as cleave to that which is 
good. And the man w 7 ho does not stoutly hate 
the wrong, has no firm and tenacious hold on the 
ri^ht. Dr. Floy never more challenged mv re- 
spect and admiration than when, fully inspired 
by his theme, he launched the denunciations of 
God's law against injustice and oppression. It is 
easv to see from this hasty glance at his charac- 
ter why it was that Dr. Floy was a man of com- 
manding influence among his brethren. But I 
have not as yet touched the great secret of his 
power, the crowning excellence of his character, 
that secured for him our love and veneration. It 
was the glory of his life that he identified himself 
'with a great question of humanity and reform at 
a time when it wan very unpopular to do so, and 
that he never seceded from the position he then 
took. Another speaker has just given us an ac- 
count of the Greene Street Conference of 1838, and 
I have neither the time nor the disposition to go 
over that ground again. It was at that Confer- 
ence that James Floy, then a young man, was 
first brought prominently before the public. I 
have no uncharitable things to say of the good 
men who were then his prosecutors. Honest and 
good men they were, and many of them are now 



with our departed brother, in a land where they 
see eye to eye. It seems almost incredible that 
only twenty-five years ago it was regarded as a 
high indiscretion, if not a positive sin, for a min- 
ister of the Lord Jesus Christ to " open his 
mouth for the dumb," and to "remember them 
that are in bonds, as bound with them." But it 
was a time when "blindness in part had hap- 
pened unto Israel," and when the nation seemed 
almost given up to the idolatry of slavery. The 
martyr Lovejoy had shortly before sealed his de- 
votion to the holy cause of liberty with his blood, 
and the most respectable of the New York papers, 
secular and religious, excused, if they did not 
justify, his murder. Any action against slavery 
in an Annual Conference was denounced as schis- 
matical, and persistent efforts were made to in- 
duce ministers of the Gospel to abstain from all 
agitation of the exciting subject. These efforts 
were, on the w r hole, quite as absurd and far less 
excusable than those put forth by the fathers of 
the Papal Church to induce Gallileo to forswear 
his faith in the earth's evolutions upon its axis. I 
shall not take it upon me to say whether Dr. Floy 
erred in yielding to the extent that he did to the 
forces that were arrayed against him. He cer- 
tainly intended no recantation of his principles. 



He never surrendered or waived his right to 
preach against the "sum of all villanies." And 
that there might be no mistake on this point, he 
took occasion soon after his trial at Greene street 
to bear his emphatic testimony against slavery, 
from a New York pulpit. At the next session of 
bis Conference, complaint was made that he had 
preached Abolitionism. There are present this 
evening men who remember the manner of James 
Floy, as he drew from his pocket the obnoxious 
sermon and proposed to read it to the Confer- 
ence. Of course he was not allowed to do so ; 
listening to such a sermon was not the entertain- 
ment to which the body had invited itself. Frcm 
that time I think he was not molested for preach- 
ing an unmutilated Gospel. Dr. Floy's espousal 
of a righteous cause, in the time of its weakness 
and unpopularity, exerted an important influence 
upon his subsequent character mid position. His 
honesty and fearlessness attracted to him many 
of the best minds and hearts in the Church. 
Not only did his course secure him the confidence 
and esteem of his brethren, but it invigorated 
and ennobled his own character. A manly and 
unselfish devotion to truth always makes a man 
stronger and better. Men are sometimes honest 
in the belief and defence of a lie, and that is better 



than to be hypocritical in the support of the truth; 
but it is a sad thing when a good man takes the 
wrong side in any great moral contest. The 
truth makes men free ; and service done for her 
always brings its own great reward. James Floy 
never lost the prestige and power he gained 
in the struggle of 1838. As the principles for 
which he contended gained recognition and ap- 
preciation, he was honored for the part he had 
taken in their defence : and to his praise be it 
spoken, he carried through all his life, and down 
to his grave, the same hatred of injustice and 
wrong — the same detestation of all direct and in- 
direct efforts to sustain it — that characterized 
him in his early days. He commenced his re- 
ligious life a superintendent of a colored Sunday 
School, and to the last his sympathies and prayers 
were with the downtrodden and the oppressed. 
We all know how deeply he felt for the tens of 
thousands of the freedmen of the South. It 
seemed clear to him that in the majestic sweep 
of events God was placing us in such relations to 
this people as makes it our imperative duty to 
give them what they have never yet enjoyed — 
the blessings of a pure gospel honestly preached. 
It was James Floy's love for the Lord's poor that 
more than anything else endeared him to our 



hearts ; and we mingle with the tears we shed over 
his grave devout thanksgivings to God that he 
was permitted to live till the principles for which 
he had contended were so grandly vindicated. 
And from his seat in the excellent glory where 
he is now enthroned with Christ, he will, we 
trust, look down upon the complete and univer- 
sal triumph of those principles, and hear the 
song go up from our ransomed country, 

" Jehovah hath triumphed, his people are free." 

In addition to what has been said, I must acid 
that Dr. Floy was a devout Christian. Those 
who were most intimate with him were best as- 
sured of the sincerity and depth of his piety. 
His faith in God was clear, strong, and influential. 
He was not demonstrative, and except to inti- 
mate friends, said little with regard to his religi- 
ous enjoyments. Perhaps he erred in this. But 
there are so many persons who make a merit of 
talking about their religion, and of keeping their 
professions a little in advance of their experience^ 
that we feel disposed to speak charitably of those 
who err in the opposite direction. There are 
many who know how firm and influential a hold 
the verities of eternity had upon the heart of Dr. 



Floy. Since it was known that I was to speak 
on this occasion. I have received more than one 
testimony from those who knew him intimately, 
to the depth and consistency of his piety. There 
are many who remember with gratitude his 
fidelity and tenderness as a pastor, especially in 
his attentions to the sick and bereaved. I shall 
never forget how kind and sympathetic he was 
on such occasions. Once he came to my own 
home, when the darkness of the shadow of death 
rested upon it. A dear child, too sweet and 
beautiful for earth, had just left us to walk with 
Christ in Paradise. Dr. Floy had passed through a 
similar experience, in the loss of a little daughter, 
some fifteen years before, and nothing could be 
more brotherly and christian than the sympathy 
he manifested for us. Subsequently I saw him 
when he was passing through deep affliction. 
We sat up till late at night, far past midnight, 
and our talk was of death and of Him who is the 
Resurrection and the Life. Never did the char- 
acter of Dr. Floy seem more lovable than during 
those hours when I listened to his tender and 
tearful utterances. 

But I must desist. These are sacred memories 
to be cherished in the heart rather than pro- 
claimed to the world. I am grateful for the 



privilege of paving this humble tribute to the 
memory of my loved and honored friend. It is 
no ordinary man that has left us. A p inee and 
a great man in our Israel has fallen. Even now 
I can hardly realize that Dr. Floy is dead — that 
he will go in and out among us no more. But it 
is even so — Death has set his signet on the manly 
brow — the right hand has forgot its cunning — 
the eloquent tongue is silent in the grave. Sadly 
and reluctantly we surrender so much that is 
noble, heroic, and Christian to the insatiate de- 
stroyer. But we sorrow not as those who have 
no hope. We know that our brother shall rise 
again in the resurrection at the last day. He can 
never return to us, but the hour is at hand when 
we shall go to him ; 

4< Blest hour — when righteous souls shall meet, 
Shall meet to part no more; 
And with celestial welcome greet 
On an immortal shore ! 

Each tender tie, dissolved with pain. 

With endless bliss is crowned ; 
All that was dead revives again ; 

All that was lost is found." 

The following hymns were sung on the occasion 
of the Memorial Service. 



What is life ? 't is but a vapor, 

Soon it vanishes away, 
Life is but a dying taper, 

O my soul why wish to stay ? 
Why not spread thy wings and fly 

Straight to yonder world of joy. 


See that glory — how resplendent ! 

Brighter far than fancy paints; 
There in majesty transcendent, 

Jesus reigns the King of saints ; 
Spread thy wings, my soul, and fly 

Straight to yonder world of joy. 


Joyful crowds His throne surrounding, 
Sing with rapture of His love ; 

Through the heavens his praises sounding, 
Filling all the courts above : 

Spread thy wings, my soul, and fly 
Straight to yonder world of jo v. 



Go, and share his people's glory : 
Mid the ransomed crowd appear ; 

Thine, a joyful wondrous story, 
One that angels love to hear : 

Spread thy wings, my soul, and fly 
Straight to yonder world of joy. 


H Y M N . 


O God, we humbly seek thy face 
And own how dreadful is this place ; 
Thou speakest from Thy high abode, 
" Be still and know that I am God." 


Behold us now in sorrow meet, 
In dust we worship at Thy feet, 
Submissive bend beneath Thy rod, 
And humbly own that Thou art God. 


How helpless, Lord, against Thy power 
Is human aid in death's dark hour ; 
How vain is all the pomp of state, 
For Thou alone, O God, art great. 


And what avails us manhood's might 
To turn the arrow in its flight ; 
Or what can wisdom's art devise, 
For Thou alone, O God, art wise. 



And where shall sorrowing mortals fly 
When howling tempests sweep the sky ; 
Thou sittest on the stormy flood, 
And Thou alone, O God, art good. 


O help us Lord in every hour, 
To see Thy goodness in Thy power ; 
To trust, when clouds obscure the sun, 
And calmly say, 14 Thy will be done/' 


H 113 82 

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1 1 1 Thomson Park Drive 
Cranberry Township, PA 1 6066